Another anti-vaccination day.

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I just have to say. I am a rather reluctant participant in this anti-vaccination nonsense. I am not “pro-vaccine” I am anti misinformation. I like to help people with acute injury and illness. There is already enough to go around without vaccine preventable diseases. I am tired of the quotes out of context. I am tired of the fake, but official looking, “science”. I don’t want to see people suffer and die. Unlike many anti-vaccination, GMO people, I am actually there when it happens. The Anti-cult  is drawing in many smart people, including some of my friends. But I have come to notice something. It is only middle class people who are buying into it. The highly educated scientists don’t. The poor people who do whatever they need to in order to get these life saving treatments don’t. But here I am again. Fighting the good fight. Why? Because some things are worth fighting for.

Today I was sent another anti-vaccination propaganda video. I don’t know who produced it, but it is a lie and a conspiracy theory. This may come as a shock, but the USA is not the center of the world. It’s healthcare system is number 37 in the world, and no for profit healthcare system in the world functions effectively.

Vaccines are not some insideous plot. People create these crazy theories because they have no contact with the people involved. The people who do research. That is me and my colleagues. I’m not making any money off of it I can assure you. My friends do not get together and say “how can we create a grande money making conspiracy?”

Doctors around the world who actually understand the science behind this stuff almost unanimously agree on the benefits. The people who don’t agree for whatever reason, and there are a few, are so minimal they are basically outcasts, some of whom have been caught making up false studies and have had their medical licenses permanently revoked. It seems ludicrous to take advice or information from somebody who has been banned for fraud. Yet people do. They even cite the fraudulent research!

In many nations around the world, from Asia through Europe, Australia, and even South America, tested the safety of vaccines. THERE IS NO LINK TO AUTISM. NONE. ANYONE WHO SELLS THAT IS A FOOL OR A LIAR. The effects of various chemicals are known.

Furthermore. Not only the top, but most healthcare systems operate based on cost savings. Hep B and HPV vaccines help prevent cancer. CANCER! that saves a lot of money in treatment and healthcare costs. Millions or billions. It protects lives. People don’t have to suffer the loss of quality of life or functions .

Vaccines for Polio, Measles, save lives. 10s of thousands of lives a year. If you don’t believe me, take a trip to Afghanistan or Pakistan where anti-vaccination campaigns have devastated populations. Forget TV, go see it with your own eyes.

Rubella, causes massive and permanant birth defects. How does being deaf or blind affect a child’s life? How about massive central nervous system and physical deformities?

In the US and other civilized nations, you do not see what these diseases do very often.

Vaccines against parainfluenza and Haemophilus influenzae have helped prevent croup and epiglotitis. Those are respiratory infections that kill people. Particularly children.

Tetanus vaccination saves lives every day in the USA.

RhoGam, the medication used to prevent RH incompatable fetal morbidity and mortality is a product of vaccine science. Nobody claims if MMR causes vaccine injury then RhoGam must by the same mechanism.

There are vaccines against TB. The US chooses not to use use because it is cheaper to test people with PPD instead of chest X-rays. No other reason! It is given here to children on their first day of life. To protect them from TB. No healthcare worker who has a TB vaccination here needs to be tested yearly with PPD. Who is making money off of that? Look at the treatment for TB. It is like chemotherapy, the world’s finest poisons. Let me just speak a moment of Chemo. It is a poison, it is designed to kill cells. It is used in medicine to kill cancer cells. (unfortunately, it doesn’t discriminate too well, it is not perfect. You do not order cancer cure like you do a big mac off the menu)

Anytime you want I will explain to you the details of vaccination science down to the very atomic level, with proteins and interactions even many doctors do not understand, because they have not been taught to that level.

When I started publishing papers on NGAL, I was proud of my efforts. I showed my work to my friends. Doctors you and I know and have worked with. What did they say? “That’s great Mike, but I have no idea what it means.”

There are different levels of knowledge. “Doctor” is not the highest level. “Medical doctor” is a professional degree to practice medicine, not to understand the most advanced levels of science. Without undue modesty, I have both a Medical degree and a scientific one. (PhD), in 2 and 1/2 years I learned more trying to earn that PhD than MDs learn. If nobody did, there would be no reason to get the second degree.

GMO foods are by definition, manipulating the DNA of plants in order to get better crops. Nobody bitched about Mendel when he was doing that with flowers to get pretty colors. GMO foods actually help crops survive so when there is a drought or insect swarms in countries like the US; crops are not wiped out and famine such as that seen in Africa do not result. That saves lives. Now I will admit their business practices usually suck, and they are quite greedy businesses. But it sure beats watching your kid starve because you cannot afford or find food. (By the way, if you like conspiracies, look at who and how much anti-GMO people are paid.)

The cure for cancer. The best researchers in the world are working on modifying human DNA. Just like GMO plants. Why? Because that is how diseases like cancer, AIDS, and heart disease will be cured. Imagine a vaccine against HIV or Ebola! These medical treatments work the exact same way as GMO crops and vaccines. We just don’t have the tehcnology or knowhow to make it work in people. It has implications even for trauma. regrowing limbs or organs! It is all the same science and same techniques.

The British are working on genetically manufactured blood from stem cells. Imagine the implications of that! An unlimited supply of perfectly clean blood of every type made in a lab! What has that got to do with vaccines? The very same knowledge and techniques are used to try and make both.

My friends. They are doctors and scientists. Some of them work in the hospital, some in lab, some, like me, in both. One of my friends works in a high level position for Bayer (the drug company) She is not some evil conspiracist out to make money. She tries to find ways to make IV contrast for CT safer. So less people will suffer acute kidney injury or renal failure. She does this to help people, not to make money.

We all have to make money. If I could do my job for free I would. But I need a place ot live. I need food. I like to do things like go on vacation. I honestly don’t make much. My monthly salary is less than $700 USD. I don’t “believe” in vaccinations or GMOs. I understand how they work. I understand some people will have negative outcomes. But they are extremely rare. Some will even die from it. But your chances of being killed or permanently disabled by the disease vaccines prevent are much much higher. Hundreds of thousands of times higher.

There is an increase in autism diagnosis, because we have better understanding and testing methods. Autism shows up the same time many vaccines are given. It is just the way early childhood development works. Anyone who has kids knows when they are first born they don’t do much more than reflexive behavior, eat, sleep, and defecate. How would you know a kid has autism at that age? You can’t. It is diagnosed at the same stage of development many vaccines are given. But it is like the graph of global warming vs. number of pirates. One has nothing to do with the other.

Many of these deniers and anti-vacc, anti GMO are like a cult or religion. They believe in what they say. But THEY ARE WRONG. What they advocate is the same as religious people who tell parents to pray instead of going to doctors when their kids are sick. Who refuse life saving therapies like blood transfusion. Now they have a new god, “natural living.” Look at nature outside of a developed country. It is cruel. Children, babies die, whole families die. populations die. At all ages. From things like the flu.

This free video is made to look professional and informative by con artists. Cultists. People who do not understand so they make shit up like “the sun comes up because Apollo rides his fiery chariot across the sky every day. They make stuff up to feel better about their own ignorance. To explain what they do not know or understand. They want others to be like them. Because then everyone is equally uninformed.

Like I said. I will help you or anyone else understand. But I cannot change an irrational belief with knowledge. All I can do for that is be there when things go wrong and try to help make it better.

Have you ever noticed the most vehement anti-vacc anti-GMO people spend the most time “researching it”? Have you ever noticed most of their efforts go into seeking why it causes harm? They are not looking for answers or truth. They are looking for evidence to verify what they believe. Like anything else. When you say the lie and surround yourself with it long enough, first it looks reasonable. Then it looks indisputable. But that doesn’t make it factual. Truth and fact are different.

By the way. Courts don’t rule on medicine. They rule on who tells the best story. Ask any lawyer. Also, malpractice companies as well as pharm companies, will settle for an amount that is less than the cost of fighting in court. They are not making moral decisions to stand up for what is right. They are paying to make things go away with the least cost. You want to stop the big pharm money making conspiracy? Easy. Legislate price controls on medications like every other civilized country has.

I have watched this video. It is garbage. Just like the propaganda State controlled TV in dictatorships use. Very official. Very convincing. But still a lie.

Finally, some people take up the anti-vacc cause under the guise of the right to choose. Ok. I have to agree with that. Nobody should take away your right to choose. But they should not have to live with the consequences of your choice either. That means you should pay the total medical costs. You should pay damages to others. You should not be able to put others at risk. That means things like “no Disneyland or school for your kids.” There is something called a social contract. In order to be part of society, aka the group, you don’t steal, you don’t murder, you don’t put people at risk of infection for communicable diseases. If somebody who knowingly has HIV infection has unprotected sex they risk infecting others; we charge them with a crime and put them in jail. What makes that reasonable but not the same for say…Measles?

I am waiting for an answer to that one…

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Not everyone gets a trophy.

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Over the last couple of days I have been doing a lot of personal reflection. When I am in this phase, a person cannot possibly pick a worse time to get into an argument with me, because I lose any inhibition of using my intellect to cut people down.

When I first started my career in firefighting, I was told by both those in and outside the industry I was way too smart to be a firefighter. I didn’t really like that too much and really lashed out against those who took that position. In retrospect, I have to admit most of them were probably right. A few years later, after some pretty big career setbacks, I was told I was too smart to be a paramedic. Like most paramedics, I was proud of my accomplishment. I thought I had learned a lot. I thought I actually made a difference. I was confronted with not only the limits of the career, but also a growing body of scientific evidence demonstrating what I had been doing and believing in for quite a while was either not beneficial or outright harmful. So I rationalized I had done the best I could with what I knew at the time and resolved to be better.

Eventually, I can only say with the obviousness of the truth staring me in the face every day at work, and generally making me feel miserable, I followed the advice of some trusted friends and colleagues and signed up for some classes at the local University to pursue going to medical school. As fate would have it, during this time I got married to a wonderful lady from a foreign country, and believing that I was capable of facing any challenge; in order for her to be closer to her friends and family as I spent countless hours in medical school, as well as assuaging her depression over the absolutely horrendous treatment she was being subject to as an immigrant to the US, I made a decision to go to medical school in Poland.

I was made aware there was a stigma about “foreign medical graduates”, but I honestly figured with my background, career history, personal connections, and hard work, I could overcome such an obstacle. Unfortunately for me, I seriously underestimated the obstacle. Perhaps out of my own ignorance, but I must be afforded the benefit there was some purposeful disinformation. You see, there is not a “stigma” about foreign medical graduates, there is an outright discrimination against them. I considered it a bit of hubris, and even a bit of a racket the US medical system was running. You pay to go to a US school, you get a desirable US residency spot. If you do not pay your “protection money” then you can choose from the reject positions. I felt greatly betrayed. By my “friends” who claimed it was “harder” when in fact it was like saying “if you do not go to the US medical schools then we discriminate against you as if you were a woman or a black person in the 1800s.” Physicians I had taught for, worked with daily, encouraged me to go to medical school, and had nothing but praise for me suddenly would not take my calls or would not meet with me. One I particularly looked up to even related to me in private the reason they did not accept “foreigners” was because “we could not speak English well enough to communicate.” I pointed out that not only was I a natural born US citizen, I had lived in the US my whole life, went to US schools including university, and even worked in US medicine in some capacity both in and out of the hospital for 15 years. (If I do not speak English well enough, who does?) I was told it didn’t matter, that was the excuse used to avoid a discrimination suit; I went to a foreign medical school so forever more I was a “foreigner.”

But I have never been so easily defeated. I doubled down on what I believed to be the key to success; hard work. I struggled to read entire medical texts while friends and colleagues were getting outstanding grades reading USMLE study guides. I started work on my PhD during my clinical years in medical school, while being a new parent, often researching and studying some 80+ hours a week. I was  always tired. I was always behind. I was always angry. But I had a mission.

Soon after I came to terms with the fact that if I was going to have a successful career in medicine, it would not be in the USA. I did not like it, but I accepted it. My mission had not changed; I had to be the best, but not for a desirable residency spot; for me. I would know more, be able to do more, and in every aspect out perform any doctor ever educated in the USA. I would demonstrate without doubt or equal, “foreigners” were not only equal, but better. To that I hold.

Unfortunately, there have been some complications. One I didn’t consider was not everyone is as driven as I am. So the very same effort I was making to be better than my US colleagues was also alienating me from my “foreign” ones. It was also affecting my peer group. It created a major disconnect in my life. All of the doctors I was spending time with or conversing with were not “new” doctors; they were professors, senior doctors, department heads. It didn’t really occur to me this was not endearing me to my colleagues who seemed to think I was either a kiss ass or “punching way above my weight” simply conversing with them. In my mind I was simply doing what I had always done, try to do my best. Solve the problems of my superiors. Learn from those who know more. After all it stands to reason, if you want to be the best, you have to learn from the best right?

I started noticing a familiar pattern to my fire and EMS days. I was “too smart.” I had heard at work that when I received my PhD I was entitled to a raise. So when I officially got my paper, I matter-of-factly walked into the human resources office at the hospital, handed the lady (an absolutely outstanding woman who went well above and beyond anything expected of her to help me with all of my problems of being a foreigner in the hospital; who I must regretfully report met an untimely death) my new documents and asked “so how much more do I get?”

The reply was not what I expected. She said she didn’t know and would have to call a lawyer. Having to call a lawyer is never a good sign, especially when it comes to pay. Apparently not only was I the first English speaking PhD graduate at my university, I was the first at the hospital to have a PhD before internship was finished. I was later told the lawyer had to call the ministry and I was the first in living memory to achieve such a feat. I didn’t care. I wanted 2 things. 1. My money (the equal of $20 USD a month). 2. To get on with the next step of being the best in trauma/vascular surgery and intensive medicine. So far I have had to settle for the money. Career advancement this year has not been going well. I may be overstating, but it has been nothing short of a fucking disaster as far as I am concerned. (Maybe others do not agree)

In order to assuage my feelings of failure and inadequacy, I thought it might help to try and give something back to the Fire and EMS community which I credit as being the number 1 factor in my success in life. Sometimes I just never learn…

These were industries that never saw any value in me. The harder I worked, the more I tried, the less I was wanted. The grand ending to my fire career was being accused of being gay. I am not gay, I never was gay, I could not imagine not being attracted to women, I cannot see what women or men see in men. We’re ugly. We smell bad. Aside from work we really don’t contribute much. We cause a lot of problems. But I digress… The fire service was so… I don’t even know the word to use… Base? In their thinking and beliefs the accusation took hold and my life became a living hell. Friends were no longer friends. Supporters would not talk to me anymore. The hazing I took bordered on torture. I thought if I just worked on it harder, I could convince people it wasn’t true and believed they would welcome me back. I had completely neglected the fact that all of the comments of “you’re too smart to do this job” may have been a subtle hint because I was smart I was not overly welcome to begin with. Looking back, I think my response of “when your life is on the line don’t you want the smartest person you can find coming to help?” was not endearing. One of my mentors (I would go as far as to say idol) who wouldn’t publically speak to me anymore offered in secret that “the fire service isn’t for smart people, it is the last decent blue collar job for white men who wouldn’t do well in college.

With that, I packed my bags, vowed never to return, and got a job in EMS. That was met with an almost similar response from the rank and file as well as some in management, and eventually I found my way to the hospital, where finally, my paramedic career was a success. At least as much success as the lowest level provider in the place entrusted with responsibilities well beyond my credentials afforded. But I didn’t mind. Everyone was friendly; I had real friends at work, most even appreciated smart people. I think there might have been a rumor I was gay that crept up, but nobody seemed to care, so I just pretended it didn’t exist. So far, that was the best time in my life and the best job I ever had. With friends that have lasted over distance and time.

When I was putting together my official dissertation defense CV, I was told I should include awards I had won. I told my promotor that was not possible because they would not all fit in the space required. I have trophies and ribbons going all the way back to little league baseball, with accolades for everything I have done in between. (In the days when only the 1st place team got trophies, the losers did not get ice-cream, ships were wood and men were iron.) I also explained that I did not believe in presenting my awards of yesterday because the true measure of greatness is what we do today. I keep them in a drawer. Diplomas in a folder next to them collecting dust. I notice some people actually frame that kind of stuff and put it on their walls. For me, all of those were just obstacles. I had to go to medical school to be a doctor to practice independently, using my judgment instead of rules and “guidelines.” I had to get a PhD in order to change medical practice as I saw reasonable. Considering none of my awards or credentials has gotten me what I really want, they seem more like failures than achievements. I would describe it as a failed experiment for the hypothesis of success.

Still I play the game. At least I think I am in the running. I can picture the trophy. I didn’t come to play, I came to win. There is no coach. There is no playbook. There is nobody to copy. The further I advance the more distant I feel from everyone. I get mad when people question my dedication or my motives. I get mad when people question my intellect or insights. Having suffered so much socially and professionally for being “smart” I really get pissed off to no end when people tell me I am stupid. Being stupid seems like it should be easy, but I just can’t figure out how to do it. Those people (I confess sometimes I doubt they are people and closer to the evolutionary link to common ancestors) seem so happy. They seem so knowledgeable and sure. They celebrate like they won something. I am still fighting like hell trying not to lose.

I didn’t get a trophy today. I’m not feeling very feisty. But I have to quit writing this and slog on now. I have to finally buckle down and force myself to finish the process of getting rid of my US passport. (It is a difficult act for some reason I cannot explain, despite being branded an undesirable foreigner.) Ironically I also have to schedule a test for my proficiency with the English language to apply for a job in yet another country. Perhaps I will get a trophy tomorrow. Luck is not as reliable as skill, but I’ll take it all the same.